Paterson – Film Review by Frank L
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Writer: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Helen-Jean Arthur
Paterson (Adam Driver) is the eponymous name of the “hero”, a bus driver, but also the name of the city in New Jersey where he lives. It is a nineteenth century city with fine red redundant brick mills and factories with a splendid waterfall and iron bridge. He lives with his partner Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) and their somewhat eccentric but endearing English bull dog (Marvin) in a compact dwelling on its own lot. She is of an artistic frame of mind and paints her clothes, their curtains and other surfaces monochromatically. This obsession with black and white transfers to her considerable ability to make cup cakes. His artistic bent is with words as a poet.
The film begins on a Monday and works through the week showing their daily routine. Like most people’s lives it is the routine which is dominant. Jarmusch shows Paterson waking up each day, without an alarm, in or around ten past six and looking at his watch to confirm the time. He has poems running through his head constantly. Remarkably little of moment happens apart from mundane incidents such as a bust up of two ex-lovers in a local bar or a breakdown of his bus.
Notwithstanding the minimalist story line, Jarmusch paints a rich picture of life in Paterson even if it is somewhat down at heel as a former manufacturing hub. His local bar does not have a television by choice and chess is played and even an odd conversation takes place. The empathy shown to the bar owner, a jilted lover, two old ladies’ fears when the bus breaks down are all rendered with a fine attention to detail. However the stars of this domestic slice of life in a little known backwater are Adam Driver and Golshifteh Farahani who as Paterson and Laura appear made for each other. Even lying asleep in bed together in the early morning they appear to be in harmony.
This undemonstrative, carefully observed slice of domesticity is memorable for its gentleness with much fine camera work including trays of cupcakes and cheerio cereal in a black and white bowl. Jarmusch, who also wrote the script, has created a fine film which records the everyday life of a bus driver today in Paterson, the third largest city in New Jersey. It is a triumph of the intimate, the domestic and the personal.